NDP’s Singh chal­lenged in lead­er­ship de­bate de­but

MPP spars with for­mer vet­er­ans om­buds­man over con­nect­ing with vot­ers

Toronto Star - - NEWS - KRISTY KIRKUP

OT­TAWA— Two new can­di­dates in the NDP lead­er­ship race wasted no time go­ing toe-to-toe in their first ap­pear­ance to­gether Sun­day at a lead­er­ship de­bate in Sud­bury, Ont.

Pat Stogran, who ac­quired a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing out­spo­ken as the for­mer fed­eral vet­er­ans om­buds­man, chal­lenged On­tario politi­cian Jag­meet Singh af­ter he sug­gested “an act of love” is re­quired to con­nect with Cana­dian vot­ers.

“I think that what it takes . . . to un­der­stand the re­al­i­ties of small and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties or com­mu­ni­ties that are iso­lated, it takes an act of love to un­der­stand that we are all in this to­gether,” Singh said.

“That our strug­gles are all united and the strength of Canada is when we un­der­stand we do far bet­ter when we are united.”

“Love isn’t enough,” Stogran said. “What’s your an­swer to it? How are you go­ing to bring the voice of these peo­ple to Ot­tawa to speak up?”

Singh and Stogran are now among six of­fi­cial can­di­dates look­ing to take over the party’s top job in Oc­to­ber — a de­ci­sion set to be made by party mem­bers who will be re­quired to rank their choices.

Man­i­toba MP Niki Ash­ton, On­tario MP Char­lie An­gus, Que­bec MP Guy Caron and B.C. MP Peter Ju­lian are also in the run­ning.

It is im­por­tant to ac­knowl­edge Cana­di­ans don’t trust politi­cians of any stripe, An­gus said Sun­day, adding the NDP has failed to ef­fec­tively reach out to com­mu­ni­ties.

“Let’s talk to peo­ple who are feel­ing dis­con­nected and ripped off,” An­gus said.

“Peo­ple who are fight­ing for their pen­sions, peo­ple who don’t have ac­cess to den­tal care. We’ve got to be the party that’s got their back.”

It is up to the New Democrats to show vot­ers the party is will­ing to fight for them, he added.

NDP lead­er­ship hope­fuls were asked di­rectly Sun­day about Andrew Scheer, the new leader of the Con­ser­va­tive party.

For her part, Ash­ton said she is “very con­cerned” about Scheer’s po­lit­i­cal agenda, point­ing to Scheer’s po­si­tion on abor­tion and LGBTQ rights. “This is what Trump-like pol­i­tics and Trump-like ideas look like in our own coun­try,” she said.

Scheer re­sem­bles for­mer prime min­is­ter Stephen Harper, Caron added.

“He’s not much . . . dif­fer­ent,” he said. “He’s play­ing the same base and . . . we have to know ex­actly what that means for us and we do know be­cause we fought those Con­ser­va­tives . . . in Par­lia­ment.”

There are five other de­bates sched­uled for the lengthy NDP race in St. John’s, Saska­toon, Vic­to­ria, Mon­treal, and Van­cou­ver.


NDP lead­er­ship can­di­date Jag­meet Singh was chal­lenged af­ter he sug­gested “an act of love” is re­quired to con­nect with Cana­dian vot­ers.

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